The services today started around 9am (I believe – my enthusiasm failed to get me going that early; we arrived around noon) and proceeded until 6pm. Since there are several wonderful songs and verses in here, I am going to break this day’s post up by the canonical hours, each of which lasted somewhat more than one hour, in practice.
The first hour’s prophecy was read from Deuteronomy, Moses’ warning to Israel of what would happen if they worshipped other gods: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall surely perish. . .” Today I finally realized the significance of all the prophecies and psalms put together: the psalms are often calling for vengeance against the wicked, who are persecuting the speaker of the psalm, and the prophecies are denouncing Israel for not obeying God. And many passages from the gospels identified Israel’s final disobedience as failing to recognize – indeed, killing – their Messiah when he came. They may not ever have enunciated it in so many words, but the Copts clearly believe in the covenant theology summarized by the phrase, “the Church is the new Israel.”
Another prophecy was read from Isaiah 1: “Hear, o heavens, and give ear, o earth. . . The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. . .” And Jeremiah, concluding with 23:5-6: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.” Also the passages from Jeremiah, and from Zechariah 11, concerning the one who was sold for 30 pieces of silver, which ended up in the potter’s field. Lastly, a homily by John Chrysostom, considering, in a very Socratic vein, that Judas was the one truly harmed by the transaction, since he did evil, and lost his soul, whereas Christ was innocent, and thus not the most to be pitied of the two.
“Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies, for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.” Ps. 27:13
The gospels being the passages describing Jesus before Pilate, refusing to answer any accusations, only telling Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world.